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Art Show Provides a Look into the Creative Minds of Lawrence County Preschool Students

New Castle, PA (11/15/2012) - The ballroom gallery of the Hoyt Center for the Arts was transformed during the month of October into a magnificent showcase of artwork created by preschoolers from Lawrence County. This exhibit was the result of a partnership between the Hoyt Center, the Lawrence County Early Learning Task Force and early learning providers across the county to celebrate PA’s Promise for Children and National Arts & Humanities month during the month of October. Located on the North Hill in New Castle, the Hoyt Center for the Arts has operated from the former homes of May Emma and Alex Crawford Hoyt for over 40 years. Year round programming includes arts classes, exhibits, school and after-school programs, concerts, cultural events and more.

Executive Director of the Hoyt Center for the Arts, Kimberly Koller-Jones, explained that within the last five years, recognition of the local demographics inspired the center to respond accordingly, using art as a catalyst for social change. Numerous studies have attested to the significant benefit of arts participation on a child’s intellectual, social and emotional development, particularly among disadvantaged populations. The Hoyt Center thus offers a free After School Arts program, scholarships for regular classes, a summer art camp and free school programs.

Experimentation and discovery is important to a child’s capacity to learn. The exhibition coordinator, Patricia “Patti-cakes” (as the children knew her) McLatchy said “These works of art are straight out of the imagination. They really show people the scope of what these children are capable of.”

Koller-Jones emphasized the importance of knowing that art making at this stage is not about the product, or the end result of the action of art making, but rather the process of creating and developing ideas. Using materials like empty paper towel rolls and empty egg cartons force the child to rethink what they have to turn it into something new. Koller-Jones also emphasized that such programs are not focused on developing artists but on developing children that are capable of thinking with their whole brain, not just parts of it.

Research has proven art develops pathways in the brain that affect how a child learns in all subjects. Koller-Jones has been investigating how poverty, in particular, affects the brain and how art making can counteract these physiological effects to overcome developmental challenges manifesting themselves in poor behavior, self-image and grades.

“This was such a successful partnership our next step is looking into an ongoing Friday pre-school art program to compliment the Head Start program”, says Koller-Jones. For more information on the Hoyt Center for the Arts or what is available for children call 724.652.2882 or visit www.hoytartcenter.org.